Turbo Suit – Out Here [REVIEW]
Turbo Suit has been through a lot over the past few years. As Cosby Sweater, the jam-funk-tronica trio released their debut album, Hey Girl Hey in 2012, #coolstorybro in 2013 and the Party Dad EP in 2014. Maintaining their charismatic sense of humor, this band continues to release music that represents a kind of development, experimentation and maturation that I believe every artist should strive for. After some unfortunate headlines, Cosby Sweater underwent a wardrobe change, emerged as Turbo Suit, and launched into 2015 with new musical alliances, sexier sax lines, and some bright and shiny technological funk.
As soon as those magnetic layers of synth in “Rewind Pt.1” hit my ears, I knew Out Here would be the next level for this trio. This is an extremely well rounded release that expounds on the increasingly impressive production quality that I first noticed in the Party Dad EP. David Embry has come so far as a producer; his diligence and relentless desire for improvement really shine through in each track. The unique structure of Embry’s compositions and instrumental sequencing is accompanied by his ever-expanding library of sonic tricks; ensuring the genre-diversity that has become a key characteristic of Turbo Suit.
There are many reasons why “Out Here” sounds so good; it’s the first Turbo Suit/Cosby Sweater release with live-recorded drum tracks, skillfully executed by drummer Jeff Peterson. And of course there’s the sax man Nicolas Gerlach, who is becoming more and more of a wizard these days. A saxophone/EWI may tend to attract attention away from the rest of the music but Gerlach has struck a phenomenal balance between intense solos and soaring melodic hooks that complement the music instead of dominating it.
Out Here is filled with collaborations and features guest musicians on almost every track; helping Turbo Suit succeed in their daring genre-mashing efforts. The band has gotten close with Joe Hettinga and Marcus Rezak of Digital Tape Machine; Rezak is featured on 5 out of 7 tracks. Rezak and Turbo Suit is a match made in heaven, his innovative style perfectly complements the fusion of electronic, jam, funk and reggae that this album aims for. The angelic pipes of Natalie Cressman (Trey Anasatio Band) reverberate in “Rewind Pt. 1.,” capturing a suave, sensual and smooth vibe. There’s a significant amount hip hop and rap as well with appearances by Rusty Redenbacher, ProbCause and Zion I, all of which contribute well tailored verses that give Out Here a lyrical edge. And hey, you gotta love an album that references Stanley Kubrick in the first 30 seconds.
Turbo Suit has been tagging along with Umphrey’s McGee for a while and it shows more than ever on this release. Andy Farag, Joel Cummins and Jake Cinnenger contribute their instrumental talents with that sheer technicality you can always expect from members of UM. This legendary progressive rock band has taken a liking to Turbo Suit, taking them on tour and even giving them a “set break” performance in between their sets at Electric Forest 2014. Could this be foreshadowing the signing of Turbo Suit to Nothing Too Fancy records?
Each track on Out Here is well thought out and clearly the product of a lot of hard work from all members. “Coogi Wolf” and “Karate” are the bouncey, electronic dance bangers whereas “Wake Up” is a little more smokey and laid back with some impressive keyboard work from Joe Hettinga. Each track has its own dynamism but if I had to pick a favorite I’d go with “Rewind Pt 2.” This 7 minute epic is one of the most progressive things this band has done, and it has it all; that soulful and nostalgic sax line, tinges of contemporary electronic music, and an extended solo section that mixes housey percussion with latin-esque acoustic guitar soloing courtesy of Andy Farag and Jake Cinnenger. Even more genres and styles are explored throughout the album, but Turbo Suit maintains one essential trait; the ability to let their own unique and organic personality shine through the array of influences that inspire them.
Analyses aside, when it comes down to it, Turbo Suit is here to make you move. They’ll be bringing the party to a dance floor near you as they continue their persistent touring schedule through this spring and summer. Stream Out Here below, read our interview with Cosby Sweater from last year and catch them for the 15th anniversary of Summer Camp Music Festival this Memorial Day weekend!